Aston University MEG scanning facilities used by start-up to launch new brain health service

Aston University MEG scanning facilities used by start-up to launch new brain health service

April 14, 20223 min read

MEG scanning services at Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN) have been used to launch the world’s first brain-imaging service to measure and assess brain health.

Commercial brain imaging service Myndspan launched a service to assess brain health and identify concussions, with an event at Aston University.

Start-up, MYndspan, was founded in 2020 by Caitlin Baltzer, former vice president of operations at functional brain imaging company Croton Healthcare and Janne Huhtala, previously chief executive of MEGIN, the global leader in functional brain imaging.

The service was created to support brain health across populations, using cutting edge brain scanning technology to monitor and extend healthy cognitive lifespans.

The brain imaging service is powered by a non-invasive brain scanning technology called Magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures the electrical signals between neurons to form a highly detailed map of brain activity and function.

The MEG scanner, which is located in the Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment, at Aston University, identifies and observes functional ‘invisible injuries’ to the brain, such as concussion or PTSD, that can’t be seen from an MRI image of the brain.

MYndspan’s service combines MEG scans with gamified tests of cognitive function, which measure a range of mental processes such as attention, memory, and visuospatial processing. Using these two measures of brain health, cognitive function and brain function, MYndspan provides a comprehensive overview, detailed in a thorough, easy-to-understand report of how a person’s brain is behaving and why.

Among the service’s first customers are neuroscientist and author Dr Dean Burnett who is using MYndspan to monitor the effect increasing physical activity has on his brain over time and Vicky Macqueen former England Rugby player and chief executive of Didi Rugby, who is using the service to measure her pre-concussion baseline for playing contact sports safely.

Through routine monitoring of personal brain activity, MYndspan helps people assess and understand their brain health. This helps to identify issues before symptoms emerge and supports optimal lifestyle and clinical intervention.

Its first application is concussion, where the technology can support the recovery of an estimated 3.8 million athletes who experience sports-related concussion annually.

Janne Huhtala, MYndspan co-founder said: “MYndspan’s technology can identify concussed brain activity and objectively identify and monitor recovery from a concussion. Currently, individuals are deciding to go back to play based on how they feel – a decision that can have life changing consequences.

“We think athletes deserve to have objective information about where they are in their recovery, to make the best and most informed decisions.”

MYndspan’s service will be available to the general public at Aston University’s Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment (IHN), an international leader in advanced technology to explore brains, development and healthy behaviours.

IHN at Aston University is the first of many planned locations around the world where individuals will be able to access the service.

MYndspan co-founder Caitlin Baltzer added: “The brain is hugely complex and exciting, and whilst there is a vast body of research and knowledge already available, there is still so much for us to learn about how it functions and changes over time.

“In a world where we can track and optimise every part of our health, and our lives, the brain remains neglected. At MYndspan, we believe that every person has the right to better brain health and this begins with knowing our brains.

“We are very excited to launch our brain scanning technology at Aston University as a demonstration for how digital health tools can support brain health and ultimately help more people recover and age better.”

Dr Dean Burnett, neuroscientist and author, including of the Guardian blog ‘Brain Flapping’, said: “I'm a big proponent of anything that helps people understand their brains better, and MYndspan's new high-tech but easily accessible approach looks to be extremely useful in that regard.”

Spotlight By Aston University

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